Decorating Your Bay Window: Ideas and Inspiration

What makes a bay window sing? If you are after bay window decorating ideas, there are a few insider tricks you might like to know. Ultimately it comes down to what suits your home and the way you like to live.

What is the purpose of bay windows?

Bay windows were very popular in Edwardian and Victorian times. In New Zealand our classic wooden villas (built in the early 1900s) typically have a large bay window in the living room looking out to the street.

Bay windows add space and let lots more natural light into your home. Not surprisingly, they continue to be favoured in modern homes too.

Bay Window

What should I put in my bay window?

Bay windows work well in any room - from your living area, dining room to your kitchen and bedroom. Here are a few bay window ideas:

  • A large bay window in your kitchen makes a great spot for your dining table or a custom made breakfast nook.
  • Use the space for storage - think open shelves for your cook books or closed cabinetry if you prefer a more streamlined look.
  • In your lounge, create a cozy reading nook. Get a custom made window seat installed and pile it up with cushions.
  • In your dining room, place your dining table and chairs in the bay window space to create a focal point.

How do you modernize a bay window?

Clean lines will make your bay window feel more contemporary.  Keep your cabinetry or furniture simple and unfussy. Stay away from round or octagonal shapes and choose modern finishes that are elegant and understated. 

That said, don't be shy of a bit of luxury. Ensure window seat cushions are thick and comfortable. Use long pillows (plump duck feather) or bolsters and add a sheepskin throw for texture.

How deep is a bay window?

Bay windows tend to range from 30 cm deep at the narrower end, to 60 cm or so at the wider end of the scale.

Depth should, of course, be proportional to the window's height and width. Custom measurements are essential if you are adding a bay window to an existing room.

What is the best window covering for a bay window?

Bay Window

Like anything, window treatments follow trends. Luckily today there are lots of options available to you, and more than anything it comes down to your personal preference and what works best in your particular space.

Typical options for bay windows are curtains, blinds (roller or roman), plantation shutters or a combination of those. When working out what's best for you, think about:

  • the shape of your bay window
  • how much light comes in
  • how much privacy you need.

Bear in mind also, that your window treatment shouldn't dominate the room.  Choose something that enhances your window (and views) without overpowering them.

Should bay windows have curtains?

The two primary reasons for choosing curtains as your window treatment are privacy and warmth. 

Have a think about these bay window ideas:

  • up the cosiness factor with floor to ceiling curtains in a heavier fabric like velvet or linen - especially good if you live in colder climes
  • Pair light breezy floor length curtains with roller blinds for privacy - great if warmth isn't a priority.

Curtains are by no means your only choice. As well as blinds and shutters, you could even leave your beautiful bay window bare - if you are lucky enough to have stunning views why not make the most of them?

What curtains should you put on a bay window?

Long curtains are the best bay window treatment for maintaining balance. A couple of rules of thumb:

  • Long curtains on a bent or curved track that follow the shape of your bay window are good if you want to keep the feeling of spaciousness.
  • Long curtains that on a straight track that close in front of the bay are good if you want to create more cosiness and focus the room inward.

What is the best way to hang curtains in a bay window?

Usually bay windows have a number of sections (typically three but it can vary), with different windows in each section. Depending on your bay window design you can:

  1. Hang curtains separately in each section
  2. Go for a more traditional approach with two curtains hung at each end that are big enough to meet with the middle of the bay window when they are drawn, or
  3. Hang a single curtain that sits at one end and is drawn across all sections.

Which one you choose depends largely on how you are using the bay window space (furnished or not) and whether you want to draw the eye outside to the view or focus inward for a more cosy feel.

Can you have shutters on a bay window?

Yes! Wooden shutters are a classic choice for bay windows. White slats give you a modern, fresh and streamlined look.  The benefit of shutters is that they don't take up much space and they can easily sit above any built in shelving or seating.

How do you put shutters on a bay window?

Shutters can be custom built for virtually any window space. As bay windows often have sections you will need a set of shutters for each section. This isn't a DIY job! You are best to get them professionally measured and hung.

Shutters are hugely flexible and are great for controlling light levels, privacy and air flow.   

How do you decorate a room with a bay window?

Bay Window

Bay windows give you extra floor space and light to play with. Both important elements when styling your home.

If you have trees or a beautiful garden setting to look out on, you might want your interior design to speak to those things. Place your furniture facing outward and keep window treatments light to draw the eye outward.

Alternatively, you might want to use the space to focus inward and create a cosy space. Use the extra space for shelving, place furniture facing back into the room as a focal point and choose heavier window treatments for a more cosy vibe.

How do you arrange furniture in a living room with a bay window?

Again, it depends on how you use your room and whether you want to draw the eye outward to a view, or keep the focus inward.

As a starter for ten, consider these bay window ideas:

  • Place a large comfy armchair in one corner as a focal point, facing back into the room. Add a side table and a pot plant to draw the eye.
  • Place a daybed or window seat along the front of the window. Drape over a sheepskin throw to create the perfect spot for relaxing and contemplating life.
  • Place a rug on the floor, with a beautiful shaggy sheepskin beanbag and a couple of floor cushions for lounging. This is great if you have kids or grandkids using the space to play.

Can you put a sofa in front of a bay window?

Yes! Absolutely your bay window is the perfect place for a sofa, especially if you are looking to bring the focus inward. Make sure you measure the bay window area - if your couch is too big it won't fit, and if it's too small the room will feel out of balance. It's all about proportion.

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